Voters to pick representative for new Congressional District 27

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Oct. 10, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.
Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 5:11 a.m.

The race to represent the newly formed District 27 in Washington, D.C., is heating up as the Nov. 6 election approaches.

Voters will choose from four candidates: first-term Republican incumbent Blake Farenthold, his Democratic challenger Rose Meza Harrison, Victoria independent Bret Baldwin and Corpus Christi Libertarian Corrie Byrd.

Before the redistricting, Victoria was represented by Republican Ron Paul in District 14.

The new maps put Victoria in District 27, alongside Corpus Christi and Bayside, northwest to Shiner, Gonzales and Luling.

Early voting begins Oct. 22.

Blake Farenthold

Blake Farenthold said most of the frustration directed toward Congress is because representatives "can't get anything past the Senate to the President."

"The Senate won't even throw us a starting point," he said.

Farenthold won 71.4 percent of the Republican primary vote in May. He took office in 2010 after winning 47.8 percent of the vote in that general election, defeating the Democratic incumbent, Solomon Ortiz, by 799 votes.

If re-elected, he said he would continue focusing on jobs and the economy.

"We've got it right in Texas, Washington has it wrong," Farenthold said.

Farenthold said the key to the economy is more industry-government based partnerships.

"We need less regulation and more working together," Farenthold said.

Farenthold said he agreed with much of what Ron Paul stood for, especially in the "less is more" philosophy. However, Farenthold said Paul "took it to the extreme" with plans to open the borders or legalize drugs.

Farenthold serves on the committees for Homeland Security, Oversight and Government Reform, and Transportation and Infrastructure.

He said he will continue protecting the oil and gas industry in Texas "from the administration bureaucrats who are hostile to it."

"There's a hostility toward fossil fuels," Farenthold said.

He said he does not want to pick "winners and losers," oil and gas over solar and wind, at taxpayers' expense.

Farenthold said he supports technical training like Victoria College's Emerging Technology Center and DelMar College's vocational programs.

He wants to see more investment in vocational training for high schools, which will give more skills to students who are not college-bound.

While employers are looking for workers, Farenthold said the country's benefits system for unemployed and low-income families "are geared toward keeping people on these systems."

The current system can penalize people who earn too much, but still not enough to get by. He said a sliding eligibility scale would give incentives to people who take care of themselves and go back to work.

Rose Meza Harrison

The Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress said District 27 needs a reasonable representative.

Rose Meza Harrison, 59, of Corpus Christi, said if elected, she will get congress back to work.

"House Republicans made history by absolutely doing nothing - they're the do-nothing Congress," Harrison said.

Harrison, a former assistant district attorney, said she will put middle class families ahead of party politics.

"Our priority should be to pass job bills to get Americans back to work and the economy back on track," she said.

The biggest problem facing Congress is the party-line gridlock, she said.

"There is no cooperation right now," Harrison said.

Congress missed opportunities to pass the bipartisan Violence Against Women act, the American Jobs Act, which would have created up to 1 million jobs, and without renewing the Wind Tax credit, she said.

"House Republicans voted over 30 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act when they could have been working on other things," Harrison said.

She said they spent more time changing the names of government buildings than representing their districts.

"The voters need to fire these guys," she said. "They're not doing their jobs."

Harrison took 32.3 percent of the vote in the May 29 primary, and won the July 31 runoff election with 60.6 percent of the votes over challenger Jerry Trevino.

"I want to represent everyone, people are people," Harrison said. "We've got middle class families and hard working families all over the district who need help, medical care and education, and women who need help and representation."

If elected, Harrison said she wants to join the Education and Workforce committee.

"Education is going to be the key to getting our economy back on track," she said. "No Child Left Behind is just not working."

To make a balanced budget, some spending cuts are unavoidable, Harrison said she will ensure programs that help middle-class families are not chopped.

The country should invest more in vocational programs, dual-credit high school courses, and college grants, Harrison said.

"We're going to need to take a balanced approach ... a little bit of both cuts and raise revenue," she said.

Bret Baldwin

As the owner of an international consulting company, Bret Baldwin, 48, of Victoria, wants to use his specialty in developing international business partnerships to bring together a congress that he said is "too polarized."

"They're more interested in the party than the people," he said.

As a consultant, Baldwin said he has experience bringing people together. He cited examples of when he set up a factory in China for an American company, working across extreme political ideologies - communists and capitalists.

"The advantage of being an independent is being able to bridge those political divides," he said.

He described his political views as South Texas conservative.

"Washington can stand a dose of South Texas values," he said.

If elected, Baldwin said he wants to serve on a committee for international or foreign affairs, budgetary or transportation.

His No. 1 goal remains to pass a balanced budget amendment.

"I want to bring private practice efficiencies into our government system," he said.

Baldwin said he also wants to reform the tax code to eliminate loopholes.

He said there are too many "companies not paying their fair share."

If elected, Baldwin said he would work to appeal the Affordable Care Act and instead, give businesses a tax deduction and employees a pre-tax alternative by setting up health care savings accounts and removing the current cap on these accounts.

Baldwin said he supports full energy independence, natural gas exportation, promoting wind and geothermal energy, and taking advantage of the Eagle Ford Shale.

Regarding education, Baldwin said he sees federal programs, such as PAIL grants as "extremely important."

"I know the value of education," Baldwin said. "I've seen education and we're behind."

He wants to see early education make a greater push on language and cultural training.

"Don't discount an independent," Baldwin said. "It's important to vote and important to research the candidate. Don't assume by a candidate being in a party that they stand for everything you stand for."

Corrie Byrd

Tired of frustration with Washington, a Libertarian candidate from Corpus Christi is out to make a difference in Congress.

Corrie Byrd, 27, of Corpus Christi, took a proactive approach, putting his name in the race.

"If you want to complain, at least do something about it," Byrd said. "Last year, about this time, they (Congress) were going through the budget crisis, no one was talking to each other, no one was budging. It made me say, 'Why not?'"

Byrd, a Ron Paul supporter, said he believes in smaller government and more personal freedoms and responsibility.

What he lacks in political experience, he said he makes up with common sense. He is an assistant manager at WalMart.

"I have a sense of urgency to get things done," Byrd said. "I know the importance of not being in debt. Our debt is out of control."

Byrd's No. 1 goal is to pass a balanced budget and build communication with other parties' representatives.

If elected, he said he would want to serve on an environmental committee.

"It affects this area so much with fracking, oil and natural gas," he said.

Byrd said he also wants to see more limits placed on water usage for the energy sector.

"It's taking a toll on the water in South Texas, draining our lakes and rivers," Byrd said. "Whenever you're draining our natural resources and it's killing the wildlife, that's when you need to look at whether it's worth it."

He said the amount of money spent on oil and gas production "is outrageous."

"I would try to implement a bill stating that we can't export more than we import, because last year, that's what we did," Byrd said. "We sold more oil to other countries than we actually sold to American consumers."

He said he supports the Affordable Care Act, but wants to get rid of the penalties.

"There's a way to solve the health care problem, but bickering against each other is where it hurts us," Byrd said.

Byrd recently enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and wants to continue becoming more involved in the political process and his district.

"This is where my aspiration is to serve the country in any way, shape or form," Byrd said.



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